The proposed relocation of the United Nations family to Tuana’imato will spell the end of a 40-year relationship between the U.N. and Peter Meredith & Co Ltd.
And like most separations, it is a bitter sweet feeling for both parties, more so for the landlord seeing a long time tenant prepare to leave.
In response to questions from the Samoa Observer, Apete Meredith said the Lauofo Meti Building at Matautu-uta was built especially to meet U.N. standards.
Apete said the buildings “were an investment by our company to ensure that the tenant’s conditions were being met, in this case, built to U.N. standards.”
The confidential nature of the arrangement means Apete could not disclose how much money the company had made from the arrangement since the start.
“Most of these agencies have their own arrangements with our company and all are negotiated on a commercial basis, which includes termination clauses that are agreed to by both parties, in the event that an arrangement is to be terminated by either party,” said Apete.
“We can confirm that all of the parties involved are following the agreed process, as is required by our various commercial agreements.
“We can also confirm that our company has been blessed with many years (over 40 years) of mutually beneficial arrangements with the U.N. family of agencies.
“To that extent, we also recognize the Government of Samoa’s support in their sponsorship of these important organisations that continue to help our country and the Pacific.”
So what’s next?
“Well it’s no different from any other normal business transaction for a property management company,” Apete said.
“We will now be soliciting interest from parties that could be interested in leasing the various spaces that will become available after the departure of the various U.N. agencies.”
The Matautu property is only part of the company’s portfolio.
“Our company, Peter Meredith & Co Ltd, owns the complex and its core business used to be trading in goods but has since the late 1990s focused more on property management and development,” Apete said.
“Hence we have developed and managed a few properties around the Apia area. One of these key properties is the Matautu-uta property that houses most of the U.N. Agencies that are present in Samoa.”
The relocation to the Hockey Field at Tuanaimato was confirmed by the Director of U.N.E.S.C.O, Ms. Nisha earlier this month.
“The agreement between the government of Samoa and U.N.D.P. has been signed,” she said. “So practically speaking, the building is with the U.N. already and it’s quite a development.
“We do want to thank the government of Samoa for providing a rent free premises for the U.N.”
According to Ms. Nisha, the government is currently renovating and installing offices within the sports complex building.
“It has very high walls, high ceilings and it’s a large open space. We need to have offices built inside and that is the part the government will complete working on right now.”
Ms. Nisha said it’s unclear when they will relocate to their new buildings due to ongoing government process.
The compound will be called “one U.N. House.”
“There is no obstruction in moving there, however the practical impediment is the offices work stations, so we have to wait for that work to be completed.”
Ms Nisha said at the current premises at Matautu houses close to ten different U.N. offices. All will be relocated to the Hockey Sports Complex.
Ms. Nisha was unclear as to how much that U.N.D.P. pays to the landlord for the lease.
“What is good, in going forward is whatever we save for the rent that can be used for programme purposes.
“It’s a good decision because that premises will be put to use and it will be maintained by the U.N. and definitely the U.N. will build up the building there, for the long term its a wise decision.”